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To VPN or not to VPN

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(@capriccio)
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I'm not quite sure where to put this topic, but here seems as good as any.

I was reading the New Music Friday forum and someone mentioned Composer of the Week, from the BBC. I tried to access it and, because I don't live in the UK, I was blocked. The same has often happened when I've tried to access material from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (my home country).

The only way for me to listen to music on BBC iPlayer or the ABC iView is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to fool those services into thinking I live in their country. With the BBC, I also have to sign up and get an account, using a UK postal code.

It's similar to the region blocking on DVDs, where you can't play an Aussie DVD in a US DVD player.

I understand the need to protect copyright and creators' incomes, but I've always considered this type of blocking a step to far. Why not let me listen/view and either pay for the service or show me advertisements? Why block it completely?

I've decided to go ahead and use a VPN. I'm not suggesting that others should, but I'd be interested in knowing your opinions.


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @capriccio

I understand the need to protect copyright and creators' incomes, but I've always considered this type of blocking a step to far. Why not let me listen/view and either pay for the service or show me advertisements? Why block it completely?

I agree completely! If one is willing to pay to watch/ listen, wouldn't that contribute to the further promotion of the artists and their work(s)? And won't a portion of the ticket/ subscription/ fee.... go to the artist(s)/ creator(s)?

 


   
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 Jen
(@jen)
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Ah, but the BBC is funded in an unusual way: by an annual licence fee that is paid by most households in the UK.  There is no advertising and there are no subscriptions.

https://www.bbc.com/aboutthebbc/governance/licencefee

Until quite recently, I’d assumed that all BBC content was available to stream internationally. Sadly, it seems not. There’s more info here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/questions/watching-outside-the-uk/outside-uk

There is a Composer of the Week podcast (the daily programme but compressed into an hour):

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrvd3/episodes/downloads

Hopefully that works outside the UK. I’d be very interested to hear!


   
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 Jen
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Sorry all, I should have read that webpage more carefully: it looks like the CotW podcasts are available only in the UK.

That’s a huge shame 😢

I’m remembering now that @Hugh  and @Dinah ran a few tests on availability of podcasts.  What did you conclude?


   
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 Hugh
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Posted by: @jen

What did you conclude?

The podcast we tested (BBC Record Review - Building A Library) was not available to Dinah. It's difficult to understand why since the podcasts only ever include quite short extracts from the music. Perhaps it's to keep things as simple as possible when the BBC negotiates with rights holders.

Incidentally, I don't remember that either my wife or I had to give a UK postcode to view or listen to BBC content. I'm pretty sure that the podcast apps did not require any information other than what we gave when signing up to Google or Apple in order to access their app stores, and once we had the apps we were able to stream and download BBC podcasts.


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @jen

Ah, but the BBC is funded in an unusual way: by an annual licence fee that is paid by most households in the UK.  There is no advertising and there are no subscriptions.

I see. But surely, international viewers/ listeners could be made to pay a subscription or a pay-per-watch fee or something, while local audience watch/ listen for free. I mean, there's already a BBC World Service, but that's mostly news and international politics, and it's free where i'm, via fm radio and satellite!


   
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(@nenad)
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Posted by: @hugh

Incidentally, I don't remember that either my wife or I had to give a UK postcode to view or listen to BBC content. I'm pretty sure that the podcast apps did not require any information other than what we gave when signing up to Google or Apple in order to access their app stores, and once we had the apps we were able to stream and download BBC podcasts.

Maybe this is the clue:

Smile


   
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(@dinah)
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@nenad 😂


   
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(@dinah)
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Posted by: @hugh

The podcast we tested (BBC Record Review - Building A Library) was not available to Dinah.

Yes, unfortunately @jen. Other "programs" play fine, though. And they included much longer musical excerpts @hugh! This review, for example:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06b5rrq

(I'm going to post another interesting one, in a separate topic though, so as not to hijack @capriccio 's discussion).


   
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(@capriccio)
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I'm with Dinah on this. Charge non-UK folk a fee. I despise this siloing of content.

For years, the ABC said they did it because they needed to negotiate separate contracts, but they never ever pursued this. They were entirely content to lock down all content, from cricket matches to symphonies. It makes things particularly hard for ex-pats. 


   
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 Jen
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To a large extent I agree with you both but in respect, specifically, of the BBC, it isn’t that simple.

Much of the BBC’s operation (the different ways in which the domestic and international channels are funded, the rules over advertising and impartiality and so on) is governed by a royal charter, which can only by changed by UK legislation.  I understand those changes are possible once every ten years, next in 2027. 

In the meantime I guess it’s the UK government that would need lobbying on these matters?

 


   
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(@dinah)
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Thank you for the clarification, @Jen.

In the meantime, one can make the best out of what's available. Or, if one feels it's absolutely necessary, to VPN would be the answer then. 🤷‍♀️


   
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(@dinah)
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I have another question about VPNs, though. What about security and privacy? Wouldn't one's ingoing and outgoing browsing traffic go through their servers? How safe is that? I would imagine that of course they implement top security measures, and that one would choose a reputable provider to begin with, but still...


   
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(@capriccio)
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If you use a reputable VPN service, @dinah, it should be as safe as using an Internet service provider (ISP). A VPN service will know your IP address and the sites you visit; so, too, does your ISP.

I use NordVPN, which encrypts all traffic, has built-in malware blocking, and has a "strict no logs policy", which means they don't store or track browsing data.

Free VPNs, on the other hand, often make money by selling tracking data to third parties.


   
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(@dinah)
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And how about speed, @capriccio?

I heard VPNs might significantly reduce my connection speed?

 


   
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